Hundreds of passengers and motorists going to Bukidnon found themselves stuck in traffic hours before the provincial government is set to put the entire province under community quarantine effective Tuesday night.
The move is in line with the effort of the local government to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) following President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of a Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.
As early as 8 a.m. Tuesday, public and private vehicles were flagged down by law enforcers and passengers were told to alight and have their temperature checked by medical personnel.
As of 3 p.m., a long line of vehicles bound for Bukidnon could still be seen at the animal quarantine center along the Sayre Highway in Barangay Alae, which was also being used as a checkpoint by a combined team of police, military, health officers, and barangay workers.
Lt. Col. Silvestre Asiong, Jr., Bukidnon provincial police spokesperson, said buses were not allowed to proceed to the province as part of their safety measures.
In an interview Tuesday, Asiong said they are asking for understanding from the riding public, especially those who were stranded at the border checkpoint.
“We apologize for the inconvenience. We did it to contain the spread of the coronavirus,” he added.
Asiong also explained that there was no miscommunication between the office of Governor Jose Maria Zubiri and the provincial police in the implementation of the province-wide general community quarantine.
Zubiri’s order was scheduled to take effect at 10 p.m. Tuesday, but Asiong said Col. Roel Lami-ing, the provincial police director, already ordered the setting up of the border checkpoint in the morning.
“It was [Lami-ing’s] initiative and guidance to implement the quarantine checkpoints even before Governor. Zubiri’s order takes effect,” he said.
Aside from the checkpoint in Alae, Asiong said the multi-agency task force has deployed personnel to quarantine centers in the province’s border areas such as in San Fernando, Talakag, Kibawe, Kalilingan, Aglayan, and Maramag.
In Zubiri’s two-page executive order, however, there was no mention of barring buses from entering the province.
“At the designated quarantine control points, necessary screening shall be enforced for passengers of incoming public or private vehicles,” a part of the order read.
“Drivers, passengers, and travelers entering the Province of Bukidnon shall be required to present valid ID’s and to divulge their address, contact number, and travel history, and shall be checked for signs and symptoms for proper processing/endorsement in accordance with DOH protocols and guidelines,” it added.
Meanwhile, Cagayan de Oro Mayor Moreno announced during the press briefing on Monday that port authorities allowed a commercial vessel from Cebu bound for Nasipit, Agusan del Norte to dock at the Macabalan wharf early Monday.
He said the boat, M/V St. Francis Xavier, was denied entry at the Nasipit port which prompted the vessel to proceed to Macabalan.
Moreno said it was decided that the ship dock at the city’s’ port provided the passengers and boat crew undergo a thermal scan and to subject themselves to self-quarantine once they get home.
According to a news report, the ship, owned and operated by 2Go, has 491 passengers and was first disallowed to depart from the port of Cebu City by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Sunday evening since Nasipit was on lockdown.
Moreno said he asked the PCG to allow the boat to dock at the Macabalan port out of consideration for the passengers who would be stranded at sea. (PNA)